Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park is Tasmania’s primo national park if you are talking in terms of accessibility to the island’s natural wealth. The park is a natural wonderland that includes magnificent verdant rainforest, moss gardens, waterfalls and running streams, prolific fauna and of course mountains and lakes.

There’s so much to discover that one can get flummoxed to where to start. The Overland Track which is generally walked over 5 days is a great way to see the area if you have time and you are willing to camp or stay in fairly basic huts. You can walk the first and last days of the Overland Track, which gives you a real taste of what the track has to offer. If you like your creature comforts than you can keep them. There is enough additional walking to keep you busy for weeks and importantly offer much more variety and allow you to base yourself in a beautiful lodge, take a hot shower and eat chef-prepared meals each night.

Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair Walk – 6 Days

Self-guided

World Heritage–listed Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park incorporates glacier-sculpted mountain peaks, river gorges, lakes, tarns and tracts of wild alpine moorland.

Self-guided 6 Days From $3295 Moderate What's Included

Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair Walk – 6 Days

BACK
What's Included
  • Five nights in 4.5 and 4-star excellent accommodation in rooms with ensuites
  • Private transfers from Launceston and back, all luggage and vehicle transfers on the trip (for Hobart, speak to the office. There is an option available to use your own car at reduced cost)
  • The best Cradle Mountain hikes and walks at Lake St Clair, including sections of the Overland Track
  • Boat trip on Lake St Clair
  • 6 packed walker’s lunches, 5 cooked breakfasts and 3 à la carte dinners at your choice of restaurant at Peppers Cradle Mountain
  • National Park admission
  • Worry-free navigation with Auswalk’s comprehensive track notes, maps, map case, insulated lunch bag & info pack
  • 24/7 support from Auswalk’s transfer company and representatives on the ground

Private: Franklin River, Mt Field, Lake St Clair & Cradle Mountain – 8 Days

Group-guided

World heritage Southwest N.P, Mount Anne & Field, Russell Falls, Lake St Clair, Cradle Mountain, Liffey Falls and parts of the Overland Track & a lot more

Group-guided 8 Days From $3995 Moderate What's Included

Private: Franklin River, Mt Field, Lake St Clair & Cradle Mountain – 8 Days

BACK
What's Included
  • Genuine all inclusive pack free walking holiday
  • 2 engaging, knowledgeable and experienced guides
  • 7 nights’ comfortable ensuited accommodation
  • Cooked breakfasts and two course dinners prepared by professional chefs
  • Comprehensive walkers lunches
  • All transport from Hobart to Launceston, including all luggage transport
  • National park admission
  • Auswalk guide pack including notes, maps, lunch bag and container

The Tarkine And Cradle Mountain – 5 Days

Group-guided

Tarkine wilderness: largest tract of unbroken cool-temperate rainforest remaining in the Southern Hemisphere. Mountains, wild rivers, sublime coastline, Cradle Mnt, Overland Track.

Group-guided 5 Days From $2925 Moderate What's Included

The Tarkine And Cradle Mountain – 5 Days

BACK
What's Included
  • Genuine all inclusive pack free walking holiday
  • 2 engaging, knowledgeable and experienced guides
  • 4 nights in comfortable accommodation
  • All transport from Launceston, including luggage transport
  • Cooked breakfasts each morning and two course dinners in the evening
    (breakfast provisions will be provided on 3 mornings for you to cook in your cabin)
  • Comprehensive walkers lunches augmented by Auswalk’s trail mix
  • National Park admission
  • Auswalk guide pack including notes, maps, map case, insulated lunch bag and container

OVERVIEW

Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is World Heritage-listed and nirvana for hikers, walkers and nature photographers. Cradle Mountain itself is probably the most photographed Tasmanian icon. What’s special about the mountain is the best view can be had from Dove Lake, and that famous photo of the mountain’s reflection in the lake can be yours without having to climb it. However, the fact that you can still kind of summit the mountain is kind of unique, considering so many of these types of experiences are being roped off now, due to the nanny state. But our recommendation is to walk the Face Track, as it is much more rewarding with breathtaking views almost all the way as you walk around the face of Cradle Mountain.

READ MORE

history

Truganini (c. 1812 -1876) is probably the best-known Tasmanian Aboriginal woman of the colonial era. She was born into the Nuenonne group on Bruny Island in about 1812, just nine years after British settlement was established further in Tasmania, close to what is now Hobart. By the time she had learned to collect food and make shell necklaces, the colonial presence became not only intrusive but dangerous. She experienced and witnessed violence, rape and many of the brutalities inflicted on her people. By the time she was 17 she had lost her mother, sister, uncle and would-be partner to violent incidents involving sailors, sealers, soldiers and wood cutters. In 1829, when the Black War was under way, Truganini was detained at the Missionary Bay Station on Bruny Island. Placed in the custody of Augustus Robinson, a government-backed conciliator who set out to capture all independently-living Tasmanian Aborigines, she remained under the supervision of colonial officers for the rest of her life. Except for a short interlude, accompanying Robinson in his travels to Port Phillip (now part of Melbourne), she spent 20 years imprisoned, with other Aboriginal Tasmanians, on Flinders Island, and another 17 years in the Oyster Cove Camp, south of Hobart. Details of her biography are sketchy, predominantly drawn from the journals and papers of Robinson, with whom she was associated for ten turbulent years until her long detention on Flinders Island. She was bright, intelligent and energetic, known as one of the few Aboriginal Tasmanians rooted in pre-contact language and culture, who survived beyond the middle of the 19th century. She was frequently depicted in paintings and photographs.

 

Cradle Mountain was first mentioned in 1826 by Joseph Fossey, an official surveyor for the Van Diemen’s Land Company, who named it for the likeness of its profile to a baby’s cradle. Some stories suggest that it was not a baby’s cradle but a miner’s cradle (a rocker box to separate alluvial placer gold from sand and gravel). You can be the judge!

For half a century, Waldheim Chalet, opened by Gustav and Kate Weindorfer in 1912, was the gateway to Cradle Mountain. A love of botany and wild scenery drew this couple to the region. The charismatic Gustav’s declaration that Cradle Mountain must be ‘a national park for the people for all time’ was vindicated by the creation of two adjoining scenic reserves in 1922, and ultimately by the much larger Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park that followed.  Explore the restored Waldheim Chalet. Interesting information on European history of the area, including a nice audio drama piece featuring Gustav and Kate (press the button to listen). Imagine what it would have been like to live here, or even to just come and stay here as a tourist in the early 1920’s!

The boatshed or boathouse on Dove Lake was built by Lionel Connell around 1940 using King Billy pine. He was the first ranger stationed at Cradle Mountain National Park. The Connell Family took over tourism in the area in the 1930’s after the Weindorfers, who were the first European caretakers of this area, passed away. The Dove Lake boatshed remains substantially unaltered from its original form, although some restoration work was completed in 1983.

Although the boatshed is now vacant, boating was popular on the lake up until the 1960s. Indeed, during the 1920s Gustav Weindorfer used a very basic and somewhat perilous raft comprised of two pine logs joined together with several narrow cross boards (‘a paling deck’) on the lake. He later used a more substantial punt to ferry passengers around. In 1938, the Cradle Mountain Reserve Board purchased three Huon Pine boats for this purpose, and they remained in service for tourists until the 1960s. It was for these boats that the Lake Dove boatshed and the similar but smaller boatshed at Crater Lake were built.

At the other end of the park Albert Dundas Fergusson (‘Fergy’) kept a tourist camp at Cynthia Bay before WW II and became the first ranger for the south side of Cradle Mtn – LSC National Park. He operated the first LSC ferry and built the Pine Valley Hut (off the Overland Track, near The Acropolis). For the enjoyment of walkers using the hut, he carried a metal bathtub there from the Narcissus Bay ferry landing (approx. 10 km), balancing it upside-down on his shoulders and head!

 

Flora & Fauna

FAUNA

You may see wombats (Vombatus ursinus) on the open Buttongrass Moorlands around or near Dove Lake. While mainly nocturnal, these cute marsupials often come out in the late afternoon around Cradle Mountain to graze. Please do not pat them or feed them (and discourage others from doing the same). The large burrows you see around the park are the homes of these wombats in which they pass the warmer daytime hours in quiet slumber. You will see their characteristic cube-shaped poos on the edge of many boardwalks in the park. These little poo piles are territorial signposts! Wombats are common in this part of Tasmania. They are also found in similar ecosystems on the mainland (eg Snowy Mountains of NSW and VIC High Country).

You are likely to hear quite a few birds as you walk. One of the most noticeable will be the Black Currawong, a Tasmanian endemic (ie found only in Tasmania) ? a relative of the Pied Currawong on the mainland. These large black birds with their strong beaks and piercing yellow eyes are found in a range of habitats and make loud, noisy, trumpet-like calls, often in flight. One guidebook describes these calls as “a rollicking, wailing, yet rather musical ‘kiarr-weeik, weeik ? yarr’, also short metallic croaks”. These birds are common in the LSC and Cradle Mountain area. Some will be quite bold and want to share your lunch! Please don’t feed the wildlife.

Tasmanian Pademelons (Thylogale billardierii) are medium-sized wallabies that are common around the Lake St Clair Lodge. They prefer the dense vegetation of rainforests, tea-tree scrub and heathland, but are also found in drier woodlands with damp gullies or patches of dense vegetation. They are found only in Tasmania. These little pademelons should not be confused with substantially-larger Bennett’s Wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus). They are known as Red-Necked Wallabies on the mainland where they also occur. They are widespread across much of Tasmania.

Tasmanian Devils are challenging to spot in the wild here, as they are in small numbers but also because they are largely nocturnal. But if you have time the Tasmanian Devil Centre or conservation sanctuary is well worth a visit. The Devil is the largest carnivorous marsupial weighing in at 10kg. The Tasmanian Tiger the Thylacine was the largest, but it was hunted to extinction. It is a solitary creature and is capable of crushing bones as it has powerful jaws. They will eat just about anything including insects, possums, even small wallabies and wombats.

FLORA

Depending on which month you are walking, different plants will be in flower in these moorland areas. In December, you will find Scoparia (Richea scoparia), Rigid Candleheath (Richea spregelioides) and Pandani (Richea pandanifolia) in flower. The latter like to have their feet wet and often grow on river banks. The beautiful colours of flowering scoparia include reds, pinks, yellows and whites. There is a lot of information on these plants and more in the LSC Visitor Centre if you inend on visiting here.

Spring wildflowers in early December may include: Bright red Tasmanian Waratahs (Telopea truncata), delicate pink or white Wiry Bauera or Dog Roses (Bauera rubiodes), and the creamy ‘paintbrush’ flowers of the Rigid Candleheath (Richea sprengelioides). If you are here later in the summer, other species will be in flower. There is always something beautiful to see.

If you are here in early December, you will find pink mountain berry bushes and beautiful waratahs in flower. The forest is dominated by Myrtle Beech (known as Antarctic Beech on the mainland). The new season’s growth is first red-orange, then turns light green, and finally becomes the same dark green as the adult leaves. There are also dead logs on the sides of the track covered with mosses and lichens.

Ancient Myrtle Beech trees festooned in moss tower majestically from a moss strewn forest floor. The effect is stunning and reminiscent of an ancient cathedral or grand ballroom, hence the name.

Did you notice the small ‘bonsai’ beech trees growing in rocky areas around Dove Lake? These are endemic Deciduous Beech Trees (Nothofagus gunnii). They are the only native Australian tree with leaves that change colour and fall completely each Autumn. They are commonly referred to simply as “Fagus”. Many people travel especially to Cradle Mountain at the end of April each year to enjoy the sight of the Fagus autumn colours. These stunted trees are only ever 1.5 – 5m tall, depending on the severity of the conditions where they grow.

Buttongrass Moorland (sometimes called Buttongrass Plains). This vegetation community is dominated by grass-like sedges and heathy shrubs, and is found in marshy, nutrient-poor areas. The most typical species here are clumps of what is commonly known as ‘buttongrass’ (Gymnoschoenus sphaerocephalus), a type of sedge. It’s the flowering seed head “buttons” of this sedge that give rise to its common name. These moorlands are one of the most fire-adapted ecosystems to have evolved in Australia. You may hear something that sounds like lambs bleating in the buttongrass. This is the call of the Tasmanian Froglet (Crinia tasmaniensis) – a small frog only 30mms long that is found only in Tasmania.  Wombats are often seen feeding in this area in the early morning and late afternoon – evening.

Cushion Plants: These bright-green mounds are made up of many individual plants from several different species, all living together in a tightly-packed community to help them cope with icy winds and prolonged snow. The insulating effects of the mound raise the temperature within, helping prevent the plants’ water supply from freezing. The rounded cushion shape also provides a defence against cold winds. You can gently touch the mounds to get a feel for how solid they are. In the NZ alpine zone, such plants are referred to as “vegetable sheep”. Though these plants seem tough, a single step from a hiker’s boot can fracture the mound leaving the plants vulnerable to wind and cold. It can take up to 30 years for a Cushion Plant to recover from a boot print. Watch your step!

Reindeer Moss Lichen: This is a pale-coloured lichen (a symbiotic relationship between a fungus and an alga) that grows in extensive patches on the forest floor and looks a bit like miniature trees. In fact, it is often used by model train enthusiasts as “trees” in the mini-train landscapes that they build! This lichen is found worldwide, mainly in alpine tundra areas. It is very cold tolerant, and as the name suggests, is eaten by reindeer (caribou) in the northern boreal forests. It is slow-growing (3 – 11 mm per year) and takes a very long time to regenerate if trampled.

King Billy Pine (Arthrotaxis selaginoides) Endemic to Tasmania, these trees can grow to 40 m tall (as per this splendid specimen in front of you) but are often stunted and twisted in high exposed places. They are found in valleys and rainforest areas in the western and central mountains, often in association with Myrtle Beeches. A valuable commercial timber with straight-grained, durable wood that is pink in colour and easily worked. Prized for window frames and boatbuilding. Note that while the info sign suggests that Tasmania is the only place in the Southern Hemisphere that trees belonging to this family (the Cupressaceae – Cedars) occur, New Zealand actually also has two endemic cedar species. Tasmania’s endemic Pencil Pines (A. cupressoides) which you see along the Rainforest Circuit, and in several other spots in the Cradle Mountain area, are closely related to the King Billy Pine.

Transport

Transport from Launceston/ Hobart:

It is possible to drive around Tasmania with a hire car. Public transport is limited to Cradle Mountain. There are however private operators that pick up in Launceston and drop off at Cradle Mountain. There are no direct flights to Cradle Mountain. One must fly to Hobart (good for the Lake St Clair end of the park) or Launceston to get to Cradle Mountain

climate/weather

Our summer is the best time of year for hiking in Tasmania. However, it is suitable to hike in Cradle Mountain in Tasmania from October to May. See the Bureau of Meteorology, for more information about the average temperatures and rainfall at different times of the year.

Terrain

The tracks vary quite considerably through out the park. However, the walks that we offer are on all very well groomed tracks. There are portions of sections that require a little scrambling, but they can be avoided by staying on the plateau. The tracks in the most part are made of packed earth and easy to negotiate.

walking fitness levels

The walks vary in difficulty in Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park, so one can have limited fitness and do all the easy walks. However, the walks that are of real value require that you have at least a moderate fitness level.

walking essentials

As with any journey, it is essential to be prepared for your walking holiday. While we will be transporting your luggage from accommodation to accommodation, you will still be carrying a lightweight day pack with you. Here is what we suggest that you carry with you each day:

  • Walking notes, a map, and a map case
  • Picnic lunch packed in an insulated container (when supplied)
  • Quality waterproof jacket with a hood
  • Warm jumper or jacket
  • Sunhat
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Sunscreen (at least 15+)
  • 1 to 2 litres of water
  • First aid kit
  • Toilet paper
  • Some money
  • Mobile phone (please note that reception is not available in all walk areas)
  • Personal insect repellent, band-aids, and a small container of salt mixed with rice grains
  • Personal necessities (example: required medication)

Now that we have the essentials packed, it is time to think of those additional items that may be worth packing along with you. These may include and are not limited to:

  • Waterproof over-trousers
  • Warm hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera (with an extra battery or sim cards)
  • Binoculars
  • Notebook and pen
  • Matches
  • Small torch
  • Walking stick
  • Thermos (for hot drinks)
  • Additional snacks

FIVE BEST SHORT WALKS

Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is carved up into two distinct sections; there’s the Cradle Mountain section and the Lake St Clair Derwent Bridge section. Cradle Mountain was first mentioned in 1826 by Joseph Fossey, an official surveyor for the Van Diemen’s Land Company, who named it for the likeness of its profile to a baby’s cradle. Some stories suggest that it was not a baby’s cradle but a miner’s cradle (a rocker box to separate alluvial placer gold from sand and gravel).

DOVE LAKE CIRCUIT, CRADLE MOUNTAIN

The Dove Lake Circuit is only 5.7kms and takes about 1hr 45mins to 2hrs 30mins to walk. The grading of this walk is easy as for most of the walk the track is flat. This is where you will get that iconic photo of Cradle Mountain reflected in the water. The trail starts at the car park and is easy to follow, as its on boardwalk much of the way.

The track takes you past Glacier Rock and underneath the craggy spires of the Mountain. Glacier Rock is a modern-day record of times gone by when Glaciers were moulding these mountains and valleys. The striations that mark Glacier Rock run parallel to the lake and were shaped by the enormous pressure from the weight of the glacier. These were caused by rocky debris within a massive glacier that moved down from the slopes of Cradle Mountain gouging out the basin that would later contain the waters of Lake Dove. As the glacier passed over the hard quartzite of Glacier Rock, the debris left behind these scratches! There are many other glacial features in the area, including Lake Wilks, a hanging lake or cirque, on the high plateau area under the peaks of Cradle Mountain.

There’s also a section of magnificent cool temperate rainforest along the walk, known as the Ballroom Forest. The ancient Myrtle Beech trees festooned in moss, tower majestically from a moss strewn forest floor. The effect is stunning and reminiscent of an ancient cathedral or grand ballroom, hence the name.

The last thing of note is the boatshed on the northwest shore, built in 1940 by the first ranger Lionell Connell. It was used to house the Huon Pine boats that were used to ferry tourist out on the lake. It’s not used anymore, but evidently, it makes for another fabulous photo opportunity.

CYNTHIA BAY TO SHADOW LAKE, LAKE ST CLAIR

This walk is 11kms and will take somewhere between 3 to 4 hours to complete. There is a gentle incline to this track as you make your way to the lake. The track itself is well maintained, but it is a bit rocky so watch your step. You can continue to walk up to Mount Rufus and do the whole Mount Rufus circuit, but only if you have another 3 to 4 hours to spare, a total walk of 21 kms.

The shores of Shadow Lake are a nice spot for morning tea. There is a good place to sit near the lake’s edge and soak up the forest and the ambience of the lake. Once you’ve rested, you can backtrack back to your car or accommodation or you can continue on to walk the Shadow Lake circuit. This adds an extra 3 kms to the walk, but it rewards you with more myrtle forest and the chance to see more fauna.

THE OVERLAND TRACK TO MARIONS LOOKOUT, CRADLE MOUNTAIN

There are 2 iconic walks to do at Cradle Mountain and this is the other one. This walk of 8.2kms starts at Ronny Creek and is graded as moderate. The walk doesn’t sound too hard, but it does have a fairly substantial incline to it, so be aware it will take up to 4 hrs to complete. For many people, the downhill is more of an issue, but with care this walk is not that difficult.

From the Lookout, you can see Dove Lake and Lake Lilla below. Ahead is the magnificent Cradle Mountain which consists of largely columnar dolerite rock. The highest peak at the right is the main summit at 1545 m. The lower peak at the left end of the ridge is Weindorfers Tower. The smaller peak that forms the end of the “cradle” to the far left is Little Horn (1355 m). Marion’s Lookout was named by Gustav Weindorfer after his sister-in-law who lived with her husband, Daniel Cowle, in the nearby town of Kindred.

In contrast to the rounded domes of Marion’s Lookout, Hanson’s Peak, and Mt Campbell, the profile of Cradle Mountain is very rough and rugged. In past ice ages, Cradle Mountain would have been a rocky outcrop emerging through the ice sheets. Such glacial islands are known as nunataks (a term that comes to us from the Inuit people of Greenland).

 

WALDHEIMS & FOREST WALK, CRADLE MOUNTAIN

The expected time to walk this is approximatley 1hr as it is only 2.2kms long. But you might need to add some extra time to explore the Chalet. The walk starts at the Ronny Creek shuttle stop.

For half a century, Waldheim Chalet, opened by Gustav and Kate Weindorfer in 1912, was the gateway to Cradle Mountain. A love of botany and wild scenery drew this couple to the region. The charismatic Gustav’s declaration that Cradle Mountain must be ‘a national park for the people for all time’ was vindicated by the creation of two adjoining scenic reserves in 1922, and ultimately by the much larger Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park that followed. There’s some interesting information on European history of the area in the Chalet, including a nice audio drama piece featuring Gustav and Kate. Imagine what it would have been like to live here, or even to just come and stay here as a tourist in the early 1920’s!

ABORIGINAL CULTURAL WALK LAKE ST CLAIR

This walk starts at the information centre at Lake St Clair. It is an easy walk of only 2 kms, about 30mins. This walk is very informative as it gives a walker a picture of what it was like for the people that were here before the Europeans, the Larmairremener. The Larmairremener are the local group of people, that were originally from the Big River people. A Tasmanian Aboriginal woman, Julie Gough, working with the Parks Service as the Indigenous Interpretation Officer, developed this cultural walk project with three Aboriginal women artists, Lola Greeno, Muriel Maynard and Vicki West. The project involved the women coming here to make an art work from local materials which is on display in the Visitor Centre. They also developed the interpretive signs along the cultural walk.

The final Overland Track Marker is also here. Lake St Clair’s southern shores at Cynthia Bay is the official end point of the Overland Track, as marked by a big orange metal sign & silver cut-out figure of a walker. The Overland Track is Australia’s most famous multi-day bush walk. Established in the early 1930’s, this 78 km walk from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair’s Cynthia Bay takes 5 – 6 days. More than 8000 people from more than 50 countries walk the Overland Track each year.

Overview

OVERVIEW

Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is World Heritage-listed and nirvana for hikers, walkers and nature photographers. Cradle Mountain itself is probably the most photographed Tasmanian icon. What’s special about the mountain is the best view can be had from Dove Lake, and that famous photo of the mountain’s reflection in the lake can be yours without having to climb it. However, the fact that you can still kind of summit the mountain is kind of unique, considering so many of these types of experiences are being roped off now, due to the nanny state. But our recommendation is to walk the Face Track, as it is much more rewarding with breathtaking views almost all the way as you walk around the face of Cradle Mountain.

READ MORE
History

History

Truganini (c. 1812 -1876) is probably the best-known Tasmanian Aboriginal woman of the colonial era. She was born into the Nuenonne group on Bruny Island in about 1812, just nine years after British settlement was established further in Tasmania, close to what is now Hobart. By the time she had learned to collect food and make shell necklaces, the colonial presence became not only intrusive but dangerous. She experienced and witnessed violence, rape and many of the brutalities inflicted on her people. By the time she was 17 she had lost her mother, sister, uncle and would-be partner to violent incidents involving sailors, sealers, soldiers and wood cutters. In 1829, when the Black War was under way, Truganini was detained at the Missionary Bay Station on Bruny Island. Placed in the custody of Augustus Robinson, a government-backed conciliator who set out to capture all independently-living Tasmanian Aborigines, she remained under the supervision of colonial officers for the rest of her life. Except for a short interlude, accompanying Robinson in his travels to Port Phillip (now part of Melbourne), she spent 20 years imprisoned, with other Aboriginal Tasmanians, on Flinders Island, and another 17 years in the Oyster Cove Camp, south of Hobart. Details of her biography are sketchy, predominantly drawn from the journals and papers of Robinson, with whom she was associated for ten turbulent years until her long detention on Flinders Island. She was bright, intelligent and energetic, known as one of the few Aboriginal Tasmanians rooted in pre-contact language and culture, who survived beyond the middle of the 19th century. She was frequently depicted in paintings and photographs.

 

Cradle Mountain was first mentioned in 1826 by Joseph Fossey, an official surveyor for the Van Diemen’s Land Company, who named it for the likeness of its profile to a baby’s cradle. Some stories suggest that it was not a baby’s cradle but a miner’s cradle (a rocker box to separate alluvial placer gold from sand and gravel). You can be the judge!

For half a century, Waldheim Chalet, opened by Gustav and Kate Weindorfer in 1912, was the gateway to Cradle Mountain. A love of botany and wild scenery drew this couple to the region. The charismatic Gustav’s declaration that Cradle Mountain must be ‘a national park for the people for all time’ was vindicated by the creation of two adjoining scenic reserves in 1922, and ultimately by the much larger Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park that followed.  Explore the restored Waldheim Chalet. Interesting information on European history of the area, including a nice audio drama piece featuring Gustav and Kate (press the button to listen). Imagine what it would have been like to live here, or even to just come and stay here as a tourist in the early 1920’s!

The boatshed or boathouse on Dove Lake was built by Lionel Connell around 1940 using King Billy pine. He was the first ranger stationed at Cradle Mountain National Park. The Connell Family took over tourism in the area in the 1930’s after the Weindorfers, who were the first European caretakers of this area, passed away. The Dove Lake boatshed remains substantially unaltered from its original form, although some restoration work was completed in 1983.

Although the boatshed is now vacant, boating was popular on the lake up until the 1960s. Indeed, during the 1920s Gustav Weindorfer used a very basic and somewhat perilous raft comprised of two pine logs joined together with several narrow cross boards (‘a paling deck’) on the lake. He later used a more substantial punt to ferry passengers around. In 1938, the Cradle Mountain Reserve Board purchased three Huon Pine boats for this purpose, and they remained in service for tourists until the 1960s. It was for these boats that the Lake Dove boatshed and the similar but smaller boatshed at Crater Lake were built.

At the other end of the park Albert Dundas Fergusson (‘Fergy’) kept a tourist camp at Cynthia Bay before WW II and became the first ranger for the south side of Cradle Mtn – LSC National Park. He operated the first LSC ferry and built the Pine Valley Hut (off the Overland Track, near The Acropolis). For the enjoyment of walkers using the hut, he carried a metal bathtub there from the Narcissus Bay ferry landing (approx. 10 km), balancing it upside-down on his shoulders and head!

 

Flora & Fauna

Flora & Fauna

FAUNA

You may see wombats (Vombatus ursinus) on the open Buttongrass Moorlands around or near Dove Lake. While mainly nocturnal, these cute marsupials often come out in the late afternoon around Cradle Mountain to graze. Please do not pat them or feed them (and discourage others from doing the same). The large burrows you see around the park are the homes of these wombats in which they pass the warmer daytime hours in quiet slumber. You will see their characteristic cube-shaped poos on the edge of many boardwalks in the park. These little poo piles are territorial signposts! Wombats are common in this part of Tasmania. They are also found in similar ecosystems on the mainland (eg Snowy Mountains of NSW and VIC High Country).

You are likely to hear quite a few birds as you walk. One of the most noticeable will be the Black Currawong, a Tasmanian endemic (ie found only in Tasmania) ? a relative of the Pied Currawong on the mainland. These large black birds with their strong beaks and piercing yellow eyes are found in a range of habitats and make loud, noisy, trumpet-like calls, often in flight. One guidebook describes these calls as “a rollicking, wailing, yet rather musical ‘kiarr-weeik, weeik ? yarr’, also short metallic croaks”. These birds are common in the LSC and Cradle Mountain area. Some will be quite bold and want to share your lunch! Please don’t feed the wildlife.

Tasmanian Pademelons (Thylogale billardierii) are medium-sized wallabies that are common around the Lake St Clair Lodge. They prefer the dense vegetation of rainforests, tea-tree scrub and heathland, but are also found in drier woodlands with damp gullies or patches of dense vegetation. They are found only in Tasmania. These little pademelons should not be confused with substantially-larger Bennett’s Wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus). They are known as Red-Necked Wallabies on the mainland where they also occur. They are widespread across much of Tasmania.

Tasmanian Devils are challenging to spot in the wild here, as they are in small numbers but also because they are largely nocturnal. But if you have time the Tasmanian Devil Centre or conservation sanctuary is well worth a visit. The Devil is the largest carnivorous marsupial weighing in at 10kg. The Tasmanian Tiger the Thylacine was the largest, but it was hunted to extinction. It is a solitary creature and is capable of crushing bones as it has powerful jaws. They will eat just about anything including insects, possums, even small wallabies and wombats.

FLORA

Depending on which month you are walking, different plants will be in flower in these moorland areas. In December, you will find Scoparia (Richea scoparia), Rigid Candleheath (Richea spregelioides) and Pandani (Richea pandanifolia) in flower. The latter like to have their feet wet and often grow on river banks. The beautiful colours of flowering scoparia include reds, pinks, yellows and whites. There is a lot of information on these plants and more in the LSC Visitor Centre if you inend on visiting here.

Spring wildflowers in early December may include: Bright red Tasmanian Waratahs (Telopea truncata), delicate pink or white Wiry Bauera or Dog Roses (Bauera rubiodes), and the creamy ‘paintbrush’ flowers of the Rigid Candleheath (Richea sprengelioides). If you are here later in the summer, other species will be in flower. There is always something beautiful to see.

If you are here in early December, you will find pink mountain berry bushes and beautiful waratahs in flower. The forest is dominated by Myrtle Beech (known as Antarctic Beech on the mainland). The new season’s growth is first red-orange, then turns light green, and finally becomes the same dark green as the adult leaves. There are also dead logs on the sides of the track covered with mosses and lichens.

Ancient Myrtle Beech trees festooned in moss tower majestically from a moss strewn forest floor. The effect is stunning and reminiscent of an ancient cathedral or grand ballroom, hence the name.

Did you notice the small ‘bonsai’ beech trees growing in rocky areas around Dove Lake? These are endemic Deciduous Beech Trees (Nothofagus gunnii). They are the only native Australian tree with leaves that change colour and fall completely each Autumn. They are commonly referred to simply as “Fagus”. Many people travel especially to Cradle Mountain at the end of April each year to enjoy the sight of the Fagus autumn colours. These stunted trees are only ever 1.5 – 5m tall, depending on the severity of the conditions where they grow.

Buttongrass Moorland (sometimes called Buttongrass Plains). This vegetation community is dominated by grass-like sedges and heathy shrubs, and is found in marshy, nutrient-poor areas. The most typical species here are clumps of what is commonly known as ‘buttongrass’ (Gymnoschoenus sphaerocephalus), a type of sedge. It’s the flowering seed head “buttons” of this sedge that give rise to its common name. These moorlands are one of the most fire-adapted ecosystems to have evolved in Australia. You may hear something that sounds like lambs bleating in the buttongrass. This is the call of the Tasmanian Froglet (Crinia tasmaniensis) – a small frog only 30mms long that is found only in Tasmania.  Wombats are often seen feeding in this area in the early morning and late afternoon – evening.

Cushion Plants: These bright-green mounds are made up of many individual plants from several different species, all living together in a tightly-packed community to help them cope with icy winds and prolonged snow. The insulating effects of the mound raise the temperature within, helping prevent the plants’ water supply from freezing. The rounded cushion shape also provides a defence against cold winds. You can gently touch the mounds to get a feel for how solid they are. In the NZ alpine zone, such plants are referred to as “vegetable sheep”. Though these plants seem tough, a single step from a hiker’s boot can fracture the mound leaving the plants vulnerable to wind and cold. It can take up to 30 years for a Cushion Plant to recover from a boot print. Watch your step!

Reindeer Moss Lichen: This is a pale-coloured lichen (a symbiotic relationship between a fungus and an alga) that grows in extensive patches on the forest floor and looks a bit like miniature trees. In fact, it is often used by model train enthusiasts as “trees” in the mini-train landscapes that they build! This lichen is found worldwide, mainly in alpine tundra areas. It is very cold tolerant, and as the name suggests, is eaten by reindeer (caribou) in the northern boreal forests. It is slow-growing (3 – 11 mm per year) and takes a very long time to regenerate if trampled.

King Billy Pine (Arthrotaxis selaginoides) Endemic to Tasmania, these trees can grow to 40 m tall (as per this splendid specimen in front of you) but are often stunted and twisted in high exposed places. They are found in valleys and rainforest areas in the western and central mountains, often in association with Myrtle Beeches. A valuable commercial timber with straight-grained, durable wood that is pink in colour and easily worked. Prized for window frames and boatbuilding. Note that while the info sign suggests that Tasmania is the only place in the Southern Hemisphere that trees belonging to this family (the Cupressaceae – Cedars) occur, New Zealand actually also has two endemic cedar species. Tasmania’s endemic Pencil Pines (A. cupressoides) which you see along the Rainforest Circuit, and in several other spots in the Cradle Mountain area, are closely related to the King Billy Pine.

Transport

Transport

Transport from Launceston/ Hobart:

It is possible to drive around Tasmania with a hire car. Public transport is limited to Cradle Mountain. There are however private operators that pick up in Launceston and drop off at Cradle Mountain. There are no direct flights to Cradle Mountain. One must fly to Hobart (good for the Lake St Clair end of the park) or Launceston to get to Cradle Mountain

climate/weather

climate/weather

Our summer is the best time of year for hiking in Tasmania. However, it is suitable to hike in Cradle Mountain in Tasmania from October to May. See the Bureau of Meteorology, for more information about the average temperatures and rainfall at different times of the year.

Terrain

Terrain

The tracks vary quite considerably through out the park. However, the walks that we offer are on all very well groomed tracks. There are portions of sections that require a little scrambling, but they can be avoided by staying on the plateau. The tracks in the most part are made of packed earth and easy to negotiate.

walking fitness levels

walking fitness levels

The walks vary in difficulty in Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park, so one can have limited fitness and do all the easy walks. However, the walks that are of real value require that you have at least a moderate fitness level.

walking essentials

walking essentials

As with any journey, it is essential to be prepared for your walking holiday. While we will be transporting your luggage from accommodation to accommodation, you will still be carrying a lightweight day pack with you. Here is what we suggest that you carry with you each day:

  • Walking notes, a map, and a map case
  • Picnic lunch packed in an insulated container (when supplied)
  • Quality waterproof jacket with a hood
  • Warm jumper or jacket
  • Sunhat
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Sunscreen (at least 15+)
  • 1 to 2 litres of water
  • First aid kit
  • Toilet paper
  • Some money
  • Mobile phone (please note that reception is not available in all walk areas)
  • Personal insect repellent, band-aids, and a small container of salt mixed with rice grains
  • Personal necessities (example: required medication)

Now that we have the essentials packed, it is time to think of those additional items that may be worth packing along with you. These may include and are not limited to:

  • Waterproof over-trousers
  • Warm hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Camera (with an extra battery or sim cards)
  • Binoculars
  • Notebook and pen
  • Matches
  • Small torch
  • Walking stick
  • Thermos (for hot drinks)
  • Additional snacks
FIVE BEST SHORT WALKS

FIVE BEST SHORT WALKS

Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is carved up into two distinct sections; there’s the Cradle Mountain section and the Lake St Clair Derwent Bridge section. Cradle Mountain was first mentioned in 1826 by Joseph Fossey, an official surveyor for the Van Diemen’s Land Company, who named it for the likeness of its profile to a baby’s cradle. Some stories suggest that it was not a baby’s cradle but a miner’s cradle (a rocker box to separate alluvial placer gold from sand and gravel).

DOVE LAKE CIRCUIT, CRADLE MOUNTAIN

The Dove Lake Circuit is only 5.7kms and takes about 1hr 45mins to 2hrs 30mins to walk. The grading of this walk is easy as for most of the walk the track is flat. This is where you will get that iconic photo of Cradle Mountain reflected in the water. The trail starts at the car park and is easy to follow, as its on boardwalk much of the way.

The track takes you past Glacier Rock and underneath the craggy spires of the Mountain. Glacier Rock is a modern-day record of times gone by when Glaciers were moulding these mountains and valleys. The striations that mark Glacier Rock run parallel to the lake and were shaped by the enormous pressure from the weight of the glacier. These were caused by rocky debris within a massive glacier that moved down from the slopes of Cradle Mountain gouging out the basin that would later contain the waters of Lake Dove. As the glacier passed over the hard quartzite of Glacier Rock, the debris left behind these scratches! There are many other glacial features in the area, including Lake Wilks, a hanging lake or cirque, on the high plateau area under the peaks of Cradle Mountain.

There’s also a section of magnificent cool temperate rainforest along the walk, known as the Ballroom Forest. The ancient Myrtle Beech trees festooned in moss, tower majestically from a moss strewn forest floor. The effect is stunning and reminiscent of an ancient cathedral or grand ballroom, hence the name.

The last thing of note is the boatshed on the northwest shore, built in 1940 by the first ranger Lionell Connell. It was used to house the Huon Pine boats that were used to ferry tourist out on the lake. It’s not used anymore, but evidently, it makes for another fabulous photo opportunity.

CYNTHIA BAY TO SHADOW LAKE, LAKE ST CLAIR

This walk is 11kms and will take somewhere between 3 to 4 hours to complete. There is a gentle incline to this track as you make your way to the lake. The track itself is well maintained, but it is a bit rocky so watch your step. You can continue to walk up to Mount Rufus and do the whole Mount Rufus circuit, but only if you have another 3 to 4 hours to spare, a total walk of 21 kms.

The shores of Shadow Lake are a nice spot for morning tea. There is a good place to sit near the lake’s edge and soak up the forest and the ambience of the lake. Once you’ve rested, you can backtrack back to your car or accommodation or you can continue on to walk the Shadow Lake circuit. This adds an extra 3 kms to the walk, but it rewards you with more myrtle forest and the chance to see more fauna.

THE OVERLAND TRACK TO MARIONS LOOKOUT, CRADLE MOUNTAIN

There are 2 iconic walks to do at Cradle Mountain and this is the other one. This walk of 8.2kms starts at Ronny Creek and is graded as moderate. The walk doesn’t sound too hard, but it does have a fairly substantial incline to it, so be aware it will take up to 4 hrs to complete. For many people, the downhill is more of an issue, but with care this walk is not that difficult.

From the Lookout, you can see Dove Lake and Lake Lilla below. Ahead is the magnificent Cradle Mountain which consists of largely columnar dolerite rock. The highest peak at the right is the main summit at 1545 m. The lower peak at the left end of the ridge is Weindorfers Tower. The smaller peak that forms the end of the “cradle” to the far left is Little Horn (1355 m). Marion’s Lookout was named by Gustav Weindorfer after his sister-in-law who lived with her husband, Daniel Cowle, in the nearby town of Kindred.

In contrast to the rounded domes of Marion’s Lookout, Hanson’s Peak, and Mt Campbell, the profile of Cradle Mountain is very rough and rugged. In past ice ages, Cradle Mountain would have been a rocky outcrop emerging through the ice sheets. Such glacial islands are known as nunataks (a term that comes to us from the Inuit people of Greenland).

 

WALDHEIMS & FOREST WALK, CRADLE MOUNTAIN

The expected time to walk this is approximatley 1hr as it is only 2.2kms long. But you might need to add some extra time to explore the Chalet. The walk starts at the Ronny Creek shuttle stop.

For half a century, Waldheim Chalet, opened by Gustav and Kate Weindorfer in 1912, was the gateway to Cradle Mountain. A love of botany and wild scenery drew this couple to the region. The charismatic Gustav’s declaration that Cradle Mountain must be ‘a national park for the people for all time’ was vindicated by the creation of two adjoining scenic reserves in 1922, and ultimately by the much larger Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park that followed. There’s some interesting information on European history of the area in the Chalet, including a nice audio drama piece featuring Gustav and Kate. Imagine what it would have been like to live here, or even to just come and stay here as a tourist in the early 1920’s!

ABORIGINAL CULTURAL WALK LAKE ST CLAIR

This walk starts at the information centre at Lake St Clair. It is an easy walk of only 2 kms, about 30mins. This walk is very informative as it gives a walker a picture of what it was like for the people that were here before the Europeans, the Larmairremener. The Larmairremener are the local group of people, that were originally from the Big River people. A Tasmanian Aboriginal woman, Julie Gough, working with the Parks Service as the Indigenous Interpretation Officer, developed this cultural walk project with three Aboriginal women artists, Lola Greeno, Muriel Maynard and Vicki West. The project involved the women coming here to make an art work from local materials which is on display in the Visitor Centre. They also developed the interpretive signs along the cultural walk.

The final Overland Track Marker is also here. Lake St Clair’s southern shores at Cynthia Bay is the official end point of the Overland Track, as marked by a big orange metal sign & silver cut-out figure of a walker. The Overland Track is Australia’s most famous multi-day bush walk. Established in the early 1930’s, this 78 km walk from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair’s Cynthia Bay takes 5 – 6 days. More than 8000 people from more than 50 countries walk the Overland Track each year.

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